The Contingent Legal Aid Fund (“CLAF”) would be a self-financing pool of money used for civil claims where legal aid money was not available. Investors in the pool could see a return on their money.
Guy Mansfield QC, who is leading the group developing the CLAF, said they were looking at how it would be constructed in terms of legislation, how they would fund someone to run it, how they would manage costs, case selection criteria, and how much money would be needed up front. Mansfield emphasised the fund “should not be seen as a Trojan horse to take legal aid away from other cases” and would be an addition to, not a substitute for, legal aid funding.
However, the fund will not work if conditional fee arrangements (“CFAs”) continue in their present form. Lord Justice Jackson has hinted he may propose changes to the CFA regime when he delivers his recommendations, expected in December. In May 2009 Lord Justice Jackson published his preliminary report in his Review of Civil Litigation Costs. The report stated: “Following the retraction of legal aid, either CFAs or some other system of payment by results (contingent fee agreements, CLAF, SLAS, third party funding agreements etc) must exist in order to facilitate access to justice.”